Golden Dawn’s mill plays a vital role in the company’s plans to re-activate the past-producing mines.
It’s a case of one bold decision leading to another. Among the companies that saw opportunity during the downturn, Golden Dawn Minerals TSXV:GOM began picking up past-producers, assembling a cluster of properties radiating around a mill in south-central British Columbia’s fabled Greenwood mining district. Now, with a recently released PEA and some of the permits in place, the company’s ready to boldly venture into trial mining sans feasibility.
Company adviser George Sookochoff credits president/CEO Wolf Wiese with being “very aggressive in making deals, acquiring properties and putting together this fantastic package. Now that markets are looking better, he’s already got his projects and financing lined up.”
So extensive is Golden Dawn’s portfolio that it reads more like a catalogue. But the initial focal points constitute a mill with three nearby past-producers: the Lexington-Grenoble gold-copper, Golden Crown gold-copper and May Mac gold-silver-lead-zinc mines. The company’s crushing-grinding-gravity-flotation mill and tailings facility has a 212-tpd capacity expandable to 400 tpd. Built in 2007, it’s been on care and maintenance since the end of 2008.
“The mill is key to the potential success of this economic model,” Sookochoff explains. “It enables us to mine and process smaller deposits. We’ll find bigger deposits if they’re there but we could keep feeding the mill with these smaller deposits. All these projects are within 15 kilometres of the mill.”
With the advantages of refurbishable infrastructure straddling a highway 500 kilometres east of Vancouver, the PEA calculates a very high after-tax IRR of 103.4% and NPV of $19.7 million. Capex would come to $27.2 million, including pre-production costs of $3.4 million spent over six months. Payback would come in 1.4 years, while the life of mine would be 4.6 years.
The limited lifespan, of course, highlights the importance of resource expansion, Sookochoff emphasizes.
This week the company announced provincial approval to re-activate Lexington and the mill. The 2,020-hectare Lexington property had its underground infrastructure expanded by a previous operator that mined the project from April to December 2008, producing 5,486 ounces of gold, 3,247 ounces of silver and 860,259 pounds of copper that was processed at the Greenwood mill. Using a 3.5 g/t gold-equivalent cutoff, Lexington has a 2016 resource showing:
- - measured: 58,000 tonnes averaging 6.98 g/t gold, 1.1% copper and 8.63 g/t gold-equivalent for 16,100 gold-equivalent ounces
- - indicated: 314,000 tonnes averaging 6.38 g/t gold, 1.04% copper and 7.94 g/t gold-equivalent for 80,200 gold-equivalent ounces
- - inferred: 12,000 tonnes averaging 4.42 g/t gold, 1.03% copper and 5.96 g/t gold-equivalent for 2,300 gold-equivalent ounces
At Golden Crown, meanwhile, permitting is in process for surface drilling to upgrade the resource and test for extensions. The 1,017-hectare property underwent small-scale underground gold-copper mining early last century and extensive exploration on and off since then. Using a 3.5 g/t gold-equivalent cutoff, Golden Crown’s 2016 resource shows:
- - indicated: 163,000 tonnes averaging 11.09 g/t gold, 0.56% copper and 11.93 g/t gold-equivalent for 62,500 gold-equivalent ounces
- - inferred: 42,000 tonnes averaging 9.04 g/t gold, 0.43% copper and 9.68 g/t gold-equivalent for 13,100 gold-equivalent ounces
May Mac also has permit applications under review, these ones for underground drifting, drilling and bulk sampling. A previous round of underground drilling wrapped up in spring, resulting in high-grade silver-gold-base metals assays. Surface drilling continues.
But Golden Dawn’s very extensive assets—again, all proximal to the mill—offer additional potential to keep the facility busy beyond the PEA’s timespan. Among them are 29 former mines covering 11,000 hectares that came with the January acquisition of Kettle River Resources. One focus is the former Phoenix mine that reportedly gave up around 500 million pounds of copper and nearly one million ounces of gold. Sookochoff, a database specialist, has been poring over something like a century’s worth of files including approximately 3,000 maps and 500 reports.
“In the last few years especially, junior companies have been able to acquire so much data that it’s a challenge to handle it efficiently,” he says. Nevertheless, after compiling the archives and incorporating new exploration data, he hopes to see some “deeper-seated feeder systems” underlying the shallow former mines.
Phoenix has deep-penetration airborne VTEM planned for September, he says. “If we get a strong anomaly coincident with a former mine, we’ll know that’s a mineralized geophysical signature and we’ll look for similar signatures around the property. This should be extremely valuable to identify larger systems deeper down, or even smaller ones closer to surface.”
Additional potential, not covered by the PEA, could come from Washington state. Earlier this month Golden Dawn announced an LOI for the Lone Star copper-gold property just across the border and contiguous with Lexington. With “material that looks very suitable to our mill,” the 234-hectare property would come with a 2007 estimate that the company considers non-43-101:
- - indicated: 63,000 tonnes averaging 1.28 g/t gold and 2.3% copper for 2,600 ounces gold and 3.19 million pounds copper
- - inferred: 682,000 tonnes averaging 1.46 g/t gold and 2% copper for 32,000 ounces gold and 30.07 million pounds copper
Big plans notwithstanding, Golden Dawn’s not immune to the typical junior hope that a senior might come knocking. The Greenwood camp’s largest landholder is Kinross Gold TSX:K. As the company’s Buckhorn mine close to the B.C. border in Washington state nears depletion, Kinross might look for other convenient assets to keep its Kettle River mill in operation, Sookochoff suggests. That might make some of Golden Dawn’s primarily gold assets attractive, although the high-grade copper projects would be more suitable for the Greenwood mill, he says.
As a native of Grand Forks, about a half-hour drive east, Sookochoff says the region shows strong community support for mining. A packed open house held in December went very well, he adds, and the company enjoys “very positive relations with the Osoyoos Indian Band. They’re very supportive, very pro-business.”
Earlier this month Golden Dawn closed the final tranche of a private placement totalling $1.76 million. In February the company closed a gold purchase agreement that brought in US$4 million. That same month the company received a US$1-million increase in a convertible security that began the previous August at US$2.4 million. Even with the caveat that the company intends to proceed without feasibility-level de-risking, the PEA allows Golden Dawn to return to the market “with a stronger story now,” says Sookochoff.